Simon Høiberg — Building a SaaS That Works for You

Reading Time: 37 minutes

Arvid Kahl 0:00
Welcome to The Bootstrapped Founder! Today, I’m talking to Simon Hoiberg. He shares his strategy for running two businesses and a YouTube channel without burning out. We’ll talk about business validation, building reusable processes to stay sane and creating sustainable businesses while maximizing your founder productivity. Here’s Simon.

You’re building two businesses and you’re operating a huge YouTube channel at the same time. I think you’re a writer, you’re a teacher, you’re always part of the conversation on social media, at least in my sphere. I see you that all the time. For most people doing any one of these things would be enough. And you’ve been doing this for what, five years now? How do you do all of this without burning out? How does that work?

Simon Høiberg 0:43
That’s a great question. I get this a lot. I think it’s something that mainly builds up over time since I started. It’s actually not more than two years ago. I started this whole thing on social media. I quickly got into an awareness about making my efforts. Can you say compound and I’ve been doing that by focusing on sort of using building blocks, that’s the kind of like the way I’m thinking about it. So every time I build something, every time I put something out there, there needs to be something more to it than just the result that that thing can give me right there and right now. I always try to do this with anything. So in the beginning, my first two, three YouTube videos as an example, it took forever to build. Then I started getting into the habit of every time I finished a YouTube video, so strip that video apart and see is there anything in this video I can turn into a reusable building block that I can use to make the next video even faster? Or is there anything in this video I can turn into a process in a checklist I can make that will make the whole thing go faster? Once you start doing this over time, it’s as if these building blocks and this whole ecosystem, it’s sort of compounds and it makes you way more productive, then when people see me doing A then B then C then D. They think about themselves and how much time it will take them to do A, B and C and D. And it also did for me in the beginning. But I also didn’t start out with A, B and C and D all at the same time. I built on top of what I already had. And slowly let that evolve. And now it’s I always think of it as like when I’m working on one thing I’m working on it all. And that way, if we’re putting one thing also reflects on another and enables me to do a whole lot of things that appears as if it’s a lot that’s getting like the output is really big.

Arvid Kahl 2:49
That sounds like you have a process for building processes, you know. Like you approach every activity as if it were a process in the making. Is that something you just came up with? Or did you find inspiration somewhere else for this?

Simon Høiberg 3:04
I think I have inspiration for this from the coding world. Being a software developer for many years, this is something that you were taught early on that contribute to open source. If you have something you built, turn it into an NPM packets or Gradle packets or anything that you can put online and let other people use that as well. And if not, use it for yourself. You have that piece of code. You spent time making that very elegantly and make your future self happy and make this easier for you. And even in the software world, I actually saw very few even senior developers with many years of experience, actually doing this, actually stopping up every time they built something taking that little bit of extra time to making it into a modular solution that they can use for their future self. And that’s my inspiration came from there. I actually in the software world got really good at that. And it enabled me to produce software really, really fast. I’ve been working as a freelance consultant for many years. And this was obviously very beneficial when I had new clients. I would never take code from another project with another client that they’d been paying me for. But there are certain generic solutions and software that you can generalize and then use for something else. And it enabled me to produce results way faster for my clients. And it’s the same kind of thinking that I took and put into my entrepreneur life. And it’s funny because when it comes to content, especially YouTube and content in social media, there’s such a level of creativity going into that so that I think a lot of people they don’t really think about how operational it actually can be behind the scenes and how much you can actually streamline and make processes out of all of this. And that’s basically where my inspiration came from.

Arvid Kahl 4:52
Interesting! Interesting to see the coding mindset translate into something that is immediately useful for an entrepreneur or a creator. I very much agree. I think I have the same mindset. And that makes me approach my content creation that the podcast and my very, very, not yet mature YouTube channel, you know, like makes this more of an extra structured approach instead of just hoping for inspiration to strike, right? If you approach this as a process based thing, then you try to figure out what steps can I actually take reliably and meaningfully every time? And then that turns into a process. You know what you just said? I find that interesting because if you say many senior developers don’t have that mindset, I think, if I remember my work experience for enterprise businesses as a salaried engineer, somebody who’s paid to be there, they didn’t track for things that are reusable, right? Like they didn’t measure my work in terms of can this be used again? They measured it, is this useful now? Am I like fulfilling the scope? Great. And if not, then I did too much work on this. It’s not immediately apparent in many ways that this could be useful at a later point. I think freelancers they have that. They have the opportunity to reuse these components where salaried engineers may not even understand that this is something that they might be reusing at a later point. Some might, obviously, it depends on the position, right? What’s your opinion on that?

Simon Høiberg 6:20
I totally agree. Now, I don’t have a whole lot of experience as an employed in the software world. I’ve been a freelancer most of my career as a software developer, but I totally agree. And it also makes perfect sense that if you’re a company, and if you are imploring, if your managers aren’t really rewarding you for that effort of because it does take a little bit of extra effort like pushing something now that’s useful now is one thing. But it does take a little bit of extra effort to actually polish that up and wrap it up in something that can be used later. And if you’re not rewarded for that, I totally get that it’s not something that the worst incentive. It’s not something as a senior developer that you would do. As a freelancer, it’s not like your client is paying you for that either. But it just pays off in the fact that you will be dealing with multiple clients at a time or from month to month or three month period to three month period. Yes, so I agree. I never thought about it, actually. But I think it makes perfect sense.

Arvid Kahl 7:17
I think for entrepreneurs that come from a software background, this becomes very apparent that it’s very useful to build reusable things like this. And particularly, and you’re a serial entrepreneur too, right? You build one thing and then you build another thing. Let’s say, maybe talk about your software as a service businesses because I find that super interesting, not only the kinds of businesses you build because they are very close to what I like to use being a Twitter creator and somebody who’s writing uses links and stuff. So both FeedHive and LinkDrip are things that I find very interesting just as products. How did they come to be? Because I have this distinct feeling that LinkDrip is a consequence of something that you need it along the way. Is that right? Like how did these two businesses come into being?

Simon Høiberg 8:06
Yes and no. And it’s one of those, to start off with, back when I started building FeedHive, that’s a little bit more than two years ago now. And this was actually the same with LinkDrip. I had, just prior to building FeedHive, I tried to build another tool. It was called Sigmetic. And it was a tool you could use to integrate with your GitHub account and let software engineers on teams track the performance among their team members. Horrible idea. I come from a background in sales. And I thought that this idea of having these like big monitors on the wall and sales performance and everyone wanted to kind of have this like fireworks going every time someone made a sale. I thought I could transfer that directly into the software world. Horrible idea! Software engineers don’t work like that. It was me being polluted from having my thinking, kind of like very influenced from another industry that I had been in before. But the essence here was that back when I was doing Sigmetic, I was trying to innovate. That was my the core feeling I had. I’m gonna go into the SaaS market and I’m gonna really try to innovate something. And it went horribly, failed epically. My second attempt with FeedHive, it was very deliberate that I wanted to try to go in the complete opposite direction and then say, I’m gonna try to be going into a market that is as well established and pre validated as I possibly can. And there are a few things you can pick from here, email marketing, social media, marketing, project management tools and I realized that project management tools they’ve been here for a long time and yet, Monday pops up and then come new like click up pops up out of the blue. There’s still room for having an alternative to some of the other established tools that are out there. And that was my approach with FeedHive. So it was actually very little about trying to come up with a new clever way to solve a pain point that users have, rather than to give users yet another alternative. And it’s dangerous. It’s a risky way to start. And it’s a risky foundation of building a business. But my thinking back then was that if the market is truly huge enough, there will be a tiny portion of those many, many, many users out there that have this pain and need to have a solution for it, that will prefer it exactly your way with those tiny small differences that you were told to have. And that was really my approach with FeedHive. It was also the approach with LinkDrip. I saw some of my competitors in the social media management among social media management tools, also building link shorteners and making more sophisticated versions and build them into their tools. And rather than building another system that could give like build UTM parameters and add upload thumbnails and have custom audios and things like that. I thought I would try to engineer it a little bit more and see is there interest in having something that is going a little bit further down the street of Airtable and Zapier and these kind of like automation tools where you can start customizing the behavior a whole lot. And it seemed like there was a lot of interest in that. And that was the way I went, but nothing inherently neither innovative or a huge problem that I had to solve for myself. Back when I was starting to do social media, there was definitely some things that I wanted from a social media management tool that I thought the market was missing. But it wasn’t quite frankly, that I couldn’t have just picked Buffer or HootSuite or some of the many others and just went with that, by the end of the day.

Arvid Kahl 11:49
Interesting. So how did you validate then that people needed it if it wasn’t your specific need? But how did you look into the market and figure out if there was an audience of potential customer base for these products?

Simon Høiberg 12:02
Yes. And it’s a great, great question because this is crucial. When you’re building something in a market that’s this well established, it’s not that you don’t know that there’s a market. It’s how to actually fit in there and how to stand next to some tools that’s been around for plus 10 years. I did this on Twitter. I reached out to I had been building my audience for about six months at this time. And they were in some closed chat groups on Twitter. I reached out to a bunch of them and asked, why are you not scheduling your tweets today? And a bunch of them, they mentioned that there were this tool and then there were HootSuite and Buffer, they were bad to use. They didn’t like them. They were old and they didn’t seem very maintained. Then there were some specific tools at the time hype theory, which was like from a software perspective, really, really high standard. They have like excellent UI UX, but it wasn’t quite what they were looking for. And there was some things that they wanted in a different way. I remember back then they mentioned they wanted a queue. Like many of these social media scheduling tools, they have like this list of queues, they wanted that in a calendar view instead. So I thought like, okay, there’s like this tiny little thing that I can jump into the market. And now when users are going to look at these, like 15 social media management tools and pick, I’m going to be the one with the calendar queue rather than a list queue. And let’s just let that be it. That’s that tiny little preference things that’s going to win some, like a tiny little portion of users over and I started building with these users that started mentioning this. We made a Twitter group chat group for just this. And in two months or so, I built in secret with these 30 so users and it was literally fully community driven. I was in there talking to them daily asking them questions daily, how should this be? How would you like this? And I was not trying to guess in any way. I was really trying to say, okay, these 30 people, they’re going to be representing a bigger group of users, yet a small customer segment in the bigger hole, that’s gonna be my future fee type users. And that was my approach.

Arvid Kahl 14:14
Yeah, that sounds like a very, very specific group of people that you like, zeroed in from the beginning. Also makes makes sense that you would do this kind of behind closed doors, like figuring out what these specific people need, instead of just pushing, you know, questions into your audience. Because I see a lot of building in public founders ask every single question about their product into a very diffuse audience and then get a lot of different answers back. So this sounds like a very reliable approach. How did you get into these groups into these, you know, private conversations? Because I guess that’s what everybody wants to know. How do you get into these private Facebook groups or Twitter groups or these LinkedIn things? Like what was your approach for that?

Simon Høiberg 14:55
Well, it actually, this actually started six months or so earlier when I started being active online. And at the time I started building FeedHive, I already had around 30,000 something followers on Twitter. So this all started six months earlier from me being active online. And I think once you start appearing and showing up and once you start getting some traction on your profile, you’re getting followers fast. People really resonate with your content. They engage with your content a whole lot. These small Twitter groups, they form naturally. I actually didn’t start any of these myself until the FeedHive specific one. But I got invited into a bunch of these where I saw other influencers. I’m not sure how much I liked the word, but you know what I mean, like content creators with a certain amount of followers. They were already in these groups. And I was invited by these other people. They saw that let’s get Simon in here. It seems like he’s got like a good amount of traction. And he’s saying some things that resonate with the rest of these people here. So it actually happened quite naturally. I wish I could say that I had to strategy and I did this and that and this and that. I actually didn’t, it did happen quite naturally. So I think that what comes before that is really being active online and starting to build your audience.

Arvid Kahl 16:18
I guess that that is the strategy, right? Like building this opportunity surface by just showing up and allowing people to invite you into these groups.

Simon Høiberg 16:26

Arvid Kahl 16:27
I think that’s wonderful advice for anybody who wants to build a community driven or an audience driven product or service or whatever is to actually go into that community, surround yourself with those people and then give them the opportunity to make a connection with you, right? And then take it from there. That is really cool. One thing that I found interesting about, let’s just talk about LinkDrip for a bit because I just love the idea of a link engagement tool. I have an account and I logged into it and it’s a lot of opportunity. I love this no code approach that you’re taking. I think that is a wonderful idea kind of marries the idea of just pure links, like the technical thing with the applicability of many, many marketing strategies and tools that come from the no code field that just plug and play. One thing that I saw in your process of building this in public and I generally love the idea that you’re doing this, that you’re not just building these things in secret. Now you’re also building them in public and sharing the whole story and the journey. One thing that I saw is that you’re doing early adopter lifetime access. That is something that you did with LinkDrip. Can you talk to me about this a bit? What considerations went into it? And if you set any limits or anything like that because lifetime access, that is a lot, right?

Simon Høiberg 17:47
Yes, it is. And I think that the whole idea behind selling lifetime deals is it’s a bit controversial. There’s a lot of there are these sites like AppSumo and Dealify and these big marketplaces where you can go and sell lifetime deals. And to me, I think it is worth underlining that it is something you should do on a limited basis. I don’t think that it’s a way to build a long term sustainable business, especially if you have ongoing costs, ongoing support, cost, ongoing server costs and a lot of other things. But that’s one thing. I actually think there’s a bigger problem with lifetime deals right now. And that is that it has a certain reputation, that if you’re selling lifetime deals, you’re in some sort of financial trouble or you’re just scraping by. And I think this is probably the most problematic part of it. Because quite frankly, when you look at the numbers, like if you spin up an Excel sheet and start grinding numbers, you will notice that servers and hosting, it became really, really affordable. You can engineer your server and your cloud solution to pay almost nothing. And when it comes to support, you can continue your solution in a way that is fully self served. You can do a lot of things to ensure that even though it sounds like lifetime, you’re offering a lifetime deal lifetime users also churned. They also at some point wants something different. They leave your platform, they don’t stick around for an extra lifetime. And it’s in a lot of cases, I believe you can strip down the math of this and say like this is even if I was never selling a subscription, I was just going to go full on lifetime deal for the entirety of this whole business. I still think you would come up with a financial model where that was actually possible and doable. However, I actually think the biggest problem is the reputation that it has right now. Selling lifetime deals to me, first of all, my best advice would be make that Excel sheet first of all to make sure that your finances can actually support this if you have for some reason very high server cost. I’ve seen some lifetime deals do this with AI and with open AI access and pay. And that’s a horrible idea because it can really become very expensive very fast. So that will be the first thing to kind of strip down the finances and see if you can support this. But I also really think that it’s a really important part of it is communicating while you’re running this lifetime deal. You need to somehow justify. With LinkDrip, I was very clear that this was an early access lifetime deal that we were selling and that this was a part of validating if there was any interest in the product that we were doing. And that we haven’t built it yet at this point. We had like a quick POC to verify that the things that we were advertising on the web page could actually be technically done and carried out. I think that’s the most important part of doing a lifetime deal today. I do think that it’s a great option. It can really, really benefit you in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of money you can get up front DONE and is a great way to validate that there’s extra interest. Nothing beats having people pick up their credit card and extra pay. But it does come with some considerations. I would never launch a lifetime deal without very, very carefully expressing and communicating that this is a limited time offer. And then we’re doing it for good reason. Otherwise, people start talking. That’s my experience, at least.

Arvid Kahl 21:18
Yeah. Mind you, like a lot of a lot of the deals that I find. As soon as I see that there’s no limit to this. It’s like, why are they doing this, right? Because my mind as an engineer, I go to well, this will cost them something in the future. So do they expect me to not use the product after that? Or will they then try to convert me into something, you know, you have all these things? And I do wonder for you like a lifetime deal? That is such a hard thing to even define what does lifetime mean to you? Because in my experience, the lifetime can mean lifetime of the person using the product lifetime of the business that is offering the product lifetime of the version of the product in the business, it can mean anything right. So what do you consider a lifetime deal to look like?

Simon Høiberg 22:01
It’s it’s a great question to me, I think it’s simply boils down to them having access to the product as long as the product lives. I think it I don’t think that anyone out there hopefully believes that a, a lead that any product, any sales product on the market is somehow immune to fail, go bankrupt go down. I. So I think most people are aligned with that idea that it’s a lifetime deal that exists as long as the product exists, and that there’s not going to be Yeah, I don’t even know how that would work. If you go bankrupt with your company, you’re going to somehow make a version of that product still run somewhere? I think most people are aware that that’s that’s just not feasible, or even technically possible.

Arvid Kahl 22:52
Yeah, that is an interesting point, generally, for any SaaS business doesn’t even have to do with lifetime deals. Just like if there is an end of business somewhere. What do you do? Right? And maybe that’s something we should talk about, because maybe with feet, if not so much that that if that is over, if that ever were over, for whatever reason, right? People would probably find an alternative to deal with their their scheduling needs. But with Link trip, I find it it’s very interesting, because links are something that is hard to change in some capacity, right? If the moment they’re printed in a book, you have a problem, you will need to make it happen. And you will need to be able to transition the data into another format. If people need to, is that something that you’ve actively put into your business model or your your your service offering for Link trip?

Simon Høiberg 23:40
Absolutely, absolutely. And that that’s a part of the platform that people can take their links and export it in a in a format, either JSON or CSV. It’s not something we have fully in place yet. But that’s definitely something that’s going to be available for all our our users. It is as you say, it’s such an essential deal a part of the the offer that we have on LinkedIn besides to creating QR codes. And it is something that people do a lot than they print a ton of QR codes and hang them offline around the city and in different places, just to figure out that the link is somehow broken. And now they’re they might have printed 1000s of these and it’s a big pain. With link drip, you can change the destination of the link and it will in the second start redirecting to a new place. And you can even automate this to add a B testing capability. So it goes to two different places on a dice roll. Or you can program it to change after a certain thing has happened. Certain amount of clicks or at a certain time, all of these things, I think, to make sure that printed links stay alive in any way. You need to offer something that is flexible, like the product itself, but you most certainly also need to give people the option to export the whole thing and take it to any other link shortening redirect service that can do the same. And you know what?

Arvid Kahl 24:53
I love that I love the fact that as founders as software founders now at least you and me too, I guess And the things that I do we actively allow our customers to leave, which for many customers is something that that then makes them decide to buy the product, because they know there’s a way out if I need to. Right.

Simon Høiberg 25:13
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that’s a crucial part, there’s there are certain technical challenges to solutions like this. In certain cases, exporting data and moving it to other other either competitor or into another service is one thing with linked up, there are certain issues with the actual domain name of the link, it says are laid out to, we recommend if you print links in any type, you do it with a QR code because they can actually be transferred and moved. There are certain issues with offering to at su se offering to the user to take their database with them might be a determining factor for some people actually signing up for the product, there is some sense of safety in knowing that the data that you produce in this tool belongs to you, I totally

Arvid Kahl 26:06
agree. Now, I would assume that particularly if you try to reach out to bigger companies, to enterprise businesses that have some kind of static links that are printed off or put on a DVD, you know, those kinds of technologies like that, you need to have a guarantee that this will be usable if they change vendors. So that might just really be a service level agreement on that, like you provide as long as you can. And if you ever have bored, there’s a way out, I find these kinds of things. There are specifics. I mean, not not every business will have to deal with it. But I think for people who are building businesses, this stuff is interesting to consider. Because it’s a mindset on how you approach your customer, right? If you think your customer is somebody that you want to lock into your business, that’s the way that some people do it, right. But if you give the customer the option to move away on their own volition, now all of a sudden, you have a very different relationship with them. And I think more and more as we build our businesses and public like you are doing and as you kind of align your business identity with your personal identity, trust is such an integral part of this whole thing, that you can’t just lock people into your product anymore. That just doesn’t work. Right that that the balance is off, that I really liked that. I want to talk to you about building and public here, because just kind of came to my mind, you’re building, I guess, your software products in public. And you’re creating YouTube videos around them. This is happening in a very competitive space, right, both social media scheduling and market link marketing. I guess they’re both very competitive. How do you make sure you’re not oversharing? When you’re building in public?

Simon Høiberg 27:52
It’s actually a great question. And I think I think this is this is a matter of being a little bit deliberate on a bunch of levels, with what it is that you want to teach your your audience. If you are the kind of building and public person that run one particular thing. And you’re kind of like all in on one business, you might even own a brand that you’re building and public from or doing your whole audience building from your your actual brand, I would be a little bit more hesitant. I think one of the things that come from building a personal brand, as I do myself and having a product offer of multiple things is that you don’t necessarily need to worry too much about compromising one specific part of your business or one specific product that you’re offering. I see everything that I do online a little bit as an ecosystem, I tried to go away from the kind of classical funnel thinking, I see a lot of a building in public people that still adopt this idea of, I’m going to go online and post and everything is a matter of moving people one step down a very specific path that I want them to take. And that ends with them buying this one specific thing that I’m offering. And it’s not that that can’t work. I think the way that I’m doing it, I’m thinking I’m thinking about it a little bit more like an ecosystem. I try to invite people in. If people they discover me online, either on YouTube or on Twitter or everywhere, I’m first of all, there’s going to be hours of content that they can start consuming. They can go on YouTube, and they can literally binge watch a bunch of things that I teach the values that I’m trying to advocate for and a lot of other things that I have to say. But I actually rarely try to push people down a specific part or try to kind of think, lock people down in this kind of funnel sort of thinking. It’s an ecosystem. It’s a playground, it’s sort of like at the sort of them you see them they step into it and they can find various things in here. Like there’s a bunch of it. That’s Eat. And then there’s going to be some of the things that are paid. But I’m they will stumble on my products in one way or another whether that be in feed Hive or link trip or now we just acquired another small Sass called Tiny QE. And I have info products that I sell as well, there’s my YouTube channel, which is free for the consumer, but I still get paid for that behind the scenes. So there’s a lot of ways that this can work. And this is also what I mean by when I work on one of these things, I actually work on this entire ecosystem. And I like this idea. That’s why I’m not really that hesitant with sharing certain things about either feet. However, linked to that other more. All in type of Audience Builders, they might be a little bit more hesitant with sharing something they find either business critical, or that put them in a too vulnerable position, I don’t really mind if something comes put puts feet high, or whether that being revenue numbers with our amount of users put it in a disappointing light. Either those users aren’t for me, or they will find another product or something else in this ecosystem that I’m building that is more for them. And this is also why in a classical kind of marketing funnel, it’s a big problem when people drops off, and people will drop off. That’s like the whole idea about a funnel. And people that drops off a funnel, they’re typically wasted, you don’t really do more of them, you just try to aim broad and then get as many people down to the very bottom of it as you possibly can. When people drop off in my funnel, there are other places they can go, they can stumble upon other products that’s more for them. And I think about this in this way in, in everything that I do, I don’t really worry that something I say will put any of my products in a bad light. I also don’t try too hard to make everything about that particular thing. There will be other things. And yeah, I hope that sort of answered your questions, a little bit about like a maybe at a philosophical level, how I roll with everything I do. Mainly,

Arvid Kahl 31:58
I think the comparison between the funnel, and what I can only kind of visualize as a web, right? That’s, that’s the thing you’re actually do you have a web with all these different nodes, and they’re all interconnected. I think like, not only are we wearing almost the same color t shirt today, we also have the same approach to business because I feel I do the exact same I have my books, I have my also, you know, tiny little YouTube channel, I have my podcast, I have my Twitter presence, I have software products, as well, and all of them are connected in a way where nothing is ever pushing. I never tried to push anybody anywhere, I just I want people to find my universe where I am in, right, I want them to find my solar system with all the different planets that surround me as the sun. And then I want them to trace back from wherever they found me to where I am right now. It’s kind of I call this like leaving evidence of ambition and of just being being present and allowing people to trace that back to where I am right now. And then they can find everything else. And I think you’re doing a great job at the same thing. I found you on in many different locations, right? I’ve seen you on YouTube, I’ve seen you on Twitter, I see your products, and all of that creates this whole universe of of Simon Simon’s universe. And I kind of love that. I think that that is an approach that as a, as a maker, as a creator today is so much more involving and powering in the community that you’re in than just trying to put people through the funnel, I love your explanation of people dropping off the funnel, because if they drop off in the web, well, they just go on another strand of the web, they find you somewhere else, right. And they might be something even more useful there. That is a great analogy. I feel this, I love this. The words

Simon Høiberg 33:45
like the absolutely use that I love thinking about this as a universe with planets and a sort of web because that’s exactly what it is. And it also comes back to the fact that it as I started talking about earlier that I always think about making things reusable, they should somehow be giving something else than the exact result that they’re giving right now. But this is a way of making your customer segments sort of reusable. So you turn your people the audience into a form of building blocks as well that if they don’t fit in, in specific place, they can be reused in something else. They don’t just drop off the funnel, and then they’re never good for anything. And this is also why not only am I not afraid of being a little bit putting some vulnerable numbers of my businesses, but I also try to talk about some things and include my audience in something that might not actually have a benefit right now it doesn’t really fit any where in my ecosystem or in my universe as it is today. But I’m also thinking a little bit ahead if my business is go down tomorrow, there’s going to be no link trip or no fee type. Is there any way that I can still include the audience that I have built and make them invite them into a new branch of this universe that that then can offer them something some value of some sort and then make me wait lists lie To go out of business just now, it’s at least easier to rise from a situation like that.

Arvid Kahl 35:06
This is also why I consider the personal brand that you have as a creator, to be the most valuable thing that you have, even though you may may have a business, right that is making, I don’t know, if you’re lucky millions a year, right? If you get it to that size, that is valuable in a financial sense. But if the business falters, the business is gone. But your personal brand, that is just going to grow over time, if you break your business along the way, which many people do, just learning from that, it’s going to increase your personal brand, right. So that’s, that’s a, that’s a very valuable asset to have.

Speaker 2 35:40
It is. And just to add, on top of that, it also adds an element of feeling more safe to fail. And I know that there are there are many different schools of thoughts, especially in the in the Twitter verse with all some indie makers and builders, there’s the kind of classical all in kind of like Andrew stickied style, like go all in, and then there’s the super small bits, the best way to make something feel failed to save is just making it as small as possible. So it’s not really that much time wasted, that the Daniel rossello kind of style of, of small bets, I understand the idea of both mine is a little bit in the middle, whenever I tried to put out a bid, my way of feeling safe to fail is that that bet even if it fails, still somehow contribute to the ecosystem. So st link trip failed, I can still make content from that that’s still contributes to my YouTube channel. If I do a YouTube video, something, it’s still contribute to the product that I do, if I put out an info product, the whole thing is kind of intertwined. And here’s where the whip analogy was really great. Again, whenever I put out something new, my first question that I asked myself is, does this fit into a web in any way? Or is this just going to be completely independent, me trying to shoot something out there and then see if it works, because it needs to fit into the web, there needs to be an element of it, doing some kind of cross pollination between that and my other products. That’s, for me, it’s the best way to not go all in because I don’t, I’m not that kind of person. But also to still feel safe to fail on a little bit more than super tiny bits, it allows you to bet a little a little more and still feel somewhat safe.

Arvid Kahl 37:24
Yeah, there’s always something meaningful that might come out of this, even if the bet itself doesn’t work out. I love this. And, and I think as a as a, as a creator, as somebody who’s sharing the journey, no matter what you do, if you if you try and find some aspect of it that relates to the other things that you’ve been doing. There’s something in there, right. And particularly for you as a YouTuber, sharing the lessons learned, also your strategies and all that, I see you use everything for that good or bad, because that is always relatable, right? People fail a lot people succeed a little, they both relate to a failure and success. And you can incorporate that into your YouTube channel, which I want to talk about because I’m a big fan. I’m a subscriber, of course, because you teach various interesting things. And I often wonder that particularly as you are an active Software Engineer, as active Software founder and a YouTuber with a pretty sizable YouTube channel, and a high quality production. I mean, I’m looking at your and your friends YouTube studio right now, how do you balance being a creator who talks about things? And being a maker who does the things that the Creator then talks about? How do you have some kind of balance that you actively seek? Or does it just happen as it happens?

Speaker 2 38:40
It’s, it’s, it’s at this point, it’s fairly planned and scheduled. And this is a matter of, it’s time consuming. YouTube in itself can quickly become a full time job, easily. If you if you if you go down a path where everything becomes too arbitrary, I would say, there’s always an element of me trying to include something in my YouTube videos, that is something first of all that people can’t find anywhere else. So I try not to just take information read on the internet and give my version of that because it’s, that can be valuable. Sure. But it’s super important for me that this is something that is inherently my experience, something that people just can’t find anywhere else. So it needs to be experiences from my own journey, or at least what I’m trying to teach should be heavily tied up on experiences from my own journey. And then I think there’s always it’s for my YouTube channel, it’s it is a marketing channel. And that’s not something that I’m, I’m like I can easily admit that it serves a purpose of being a marketing channel for my products and I do actually create a quite significant amount of leads for both feet. I’ve linked turpentine and QE on my YouTube channel alone, but it’s it’s by the end of the day. Not really the purpose it is always when I start making content for YouTube, it is to empower entrepreneurs and people who are intimidated by the whole idea of SaaS. That’s why the, the things that I’m preaching on my YouTube channels is so centered around, you don’t have to take VC money, you don’t have to go out and seek investors, you can actually roll a micro SaaS from your own home, you can do this alongside your work, you don’t have to quit your job. And I truly believe that this is true, first of all, and that’s not to neglect that it’s still super hard and super challenging. But the purpose, the main purpose of my YouTube channel is mostly to empower people who want to try to build their own SaaS, but have no intentions or feel extremely intimidated by the idea of investors, big teams, the whole Silicon Valley style of model, it do happen to it creates leads as I go along, because my channel is growing really fast on this model. And I think compared to other channels, I have seen, again, a little bit too much funneling to my tastes. And it does prohibit their growth, when every single video they come to this channel and watch somehow have this ulterior purpose or motive underlying that they need to go and sign up somewhere or do something. And when I do it like this, because that the path of off doing entrepreneurship, like like, like we do it here, it just it it will feed you with so many lessons constantly. So for me, it’s not ever a problem coming up with constant ideas or things that I want to talk about. It basically produces itself. Then on top of that, there’s the whole production, the actual production of it. And I have quite rigorously nailed down and add a pipeline inside my companies for for doing this as efficiently as I can otherwise, it becomes very time consuming. But I think the thing with YouTube that a lot of people struggle with is what should I talk about, and I let this be listened driven 100%.

Arvid Kahl 42:07
That’s, that’s the one of the biggest benefits of building anything, both just building it yourself and building it in public. Like there’s always this kind of dynamic of, well, this is useful. I can teach this, I just learned this. Now I can teach it right? That that is just stuff happens every single day, that there’s this never ending well of interesting topics. I love that. And I see you very actively take these lessons and immediately share them. And that is something that that I value as somebody who follows your journey because I’m invested in your success. I want to see you succeed. And I also want to see how you deal with challenges because you have something to teach. So I think you’re doing a wonderful job with that. Just just want to say that as a subscriber. Good job. I’m so happy to hear that subscribe. Yeah. No, it’s just something that you I love this. Because you can see this in your videos in particular, they’re very well edited. And they have a very consistent style that is teaching focused. It’s not conversion focused. You don’t you don’t want to convert people, at least that’s not the message that I see. To do anything you just want to teach them. And if they find anything that you do interesting, they will go there by themselves, right? They don’t need to be encouraged to buy or anything like it. What I do wonder, as a creator myself in the video space, how long do you plan these things ahead? Like how long does it take for you to turn your idea your learning into a video, particularly knowing that you have a process? So how long does it take you?

Simon Høiberg 43:35
Good question, because how it works right now is mainly in bulk. So I script and write for five videos at a time, then I spent typically a weekend and I shoot the whole thing along with maybe 1012 sort. So I just make a video, shooting weekend out of it. And then I shoot a lot of content. And then I plan ahead and schedule ahead almost three months into the future. So going from an idea to a an actual video, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly because I’m batching it like I do here. And sometimes I also do run into problems with certain lessons that I have been outdated, I have had to kill off videos in my schedule that I ended up spending a lot of time producing, because I learned something new along the way. And I realized that this is just not updated knowledge this is actually poor advice. I don’t want to be the person extra saying this now. And this can happen sometimes within a three month period because you learn so rapidly. I think I spent on average, around 10 hours a week at this moment on my YouTube channel alone and this includes everything from thumbnail researching topics, writing the scripts, filming editing, and at this point I do the whole thing myself I’m I’m still a little bit embarrassed to say but I still do everything in this whole production pipeline. And, but I think around 10 hours a week, but that’s given that I’m batching it and that I have now a huge library of stock videos that I can just drag in and they somewhat fit. I have filmed hundreds of small clips of me on a computer, me with a mouse, I have a ton of these thumbnails starters that I can just click, and then it’s a Photoshop project. And I can start building something, a lot of it, tons of building blocks that allow me to push these things really fast. I wouldn’t expect someone else to only spend 10 hours a week on building YouTube channel like mine, if they’re just starting out, I certainly didn’t, it took longer in the beginning for sure.

Arvid Kahl 45:38
You build it these 10 hours, they exist on top of hundreds of hours of work that went into absolutely right. I love this and your your stock videos, if we just do stuff and hold things up or whatever i i love these two, because they just give give the videos very nice character. And there’s one particular scene that I really liked. I want to talk about you about one particular video you made. And that’s called A Day in the Life of a tech entrepreneur without burning out. That was the title of the video. And I really enjoyed it because it kind of intersects almost everything that I am about software, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in general, and mental health. And these are important things. And I was I was very, very happy to see that one little stock video where you were holding up one of my books, it was just really adorable to see my work reflected in it. But it was a scene that where you were like, well, I want to I want to take in all this knowledge, but I don’t have time for it. Right, I have other things to do. And there was this very dramatic scene where as a founder, you were just screaming out in horror over error messages and business problems. And I remember feeling this myself, but when I when I ran the SaaS company before I sold it. And I wonder how you prevent these moments from happening in your own life right now because you look busy. So how do you deal with the mental challenges the pressure of all of this?

Simon Høiberg 46:58
That’s a great question. I think for me, and it, it might kind of it’s often when I say this, it comes out a little bit techie or a little bit like the corner, you know, but my the way I do everything is joy driven. And that’s also really the message of that video that you’re mentioning here, I make sure that passion and joy is on top of everything else. And as soon as you do that you have in my experience, at least you will, you will experience an almost unlimited amount of strength to handle these extremely difficult situation and where you’re mentally being very challenged with with a lot of things. I hear a lot of people talking about discipline, as if that’s the key. That’s what you need to develop That’s motivation comes and goes discipline is what you’re going to fall back on. And it’s not that I’m going to sit here and say that no discipline I do. I agree that you should have some discipline. But I try personally to gamify my entire life around Joy, I think joy and motivation, intrinsic motivation for the things that you do is the most powerful fuel that you can put into your and it will give you superpowers in terms of handling certain obstacles that are super hard. And I have certain tricks that I do in my life to enhance this sense of joy. First of all, as you mentioned, right now I look busy. And I think a lot of people get this experience. And it’s a long time since I tried to count the hours I work but it’s up there. Now in this video, I say 85 hours that’s back then it’s probably not 85 hours. Today, I just became a dad and we’re doing a bunch of family stuff, but it’s up there still. However, one thing that you will notice is that my calendar is empty. While I have a huge to do list of tasks that I need to fix and things constantly rolling in, and it’s never ending. If I wanted to spend 100 hours of this every week I could. My calendar itself is close to empty. We have a podcast right now that one was scheduled full disclosure it we didn’t just kind of like randomly pop in here. So there’s a few things every once in a while that I do have scheduled but one of the things that really intrinsically motivates me and brings me joy is the fact that I can do things in my own flow. Pick the tasks that I’m excited about that day and do it in as I try to make my task as little dependent on each other as I possibly can. My entire team. We were five members of my team right now we have a an excellent culture of doing async written work. We never have meetings. I don’t ever barge in and take a specific hour out of my team members time. And I found team members that really love this way of working as well. I hate that. And I know they hate that it’s way to interrupt the word and I in my experience There’s never think I guess sometimes that makes you didn’t ever say never. But there’s rarely things that are so important that it can’t be written down and published in a Slack channel. And then my team will see it at some point of the day, and they will address it. And to me, that’s a way of gamifying my life and setting it up for joy and excitement. And it really does allow me to handle some really critical situations, like sometimes you do need to go into firefighting mode. And then I don’t have anywhere else to be, there’s nothing scheduled, there’s nowhere that I have to kind of like, I can drop everything, I can put everything aside, and I can jump right on board on something that’s either critical, or I can allow myself to feel tired and exhausted about a certain thing and not continue doing that by force. But just shifting to something else that I’m more excited about at that point. That’s one of the ways that I do that.

Arvid Kahl 50:52
I really like it, like the empty calendar in particular is something that I very much relate to like our conversation right now is the only thing I have scheduled this week. I’m saying that that was always my goal, right to have the calendar so empty, that nobody else could tell me what I can do. You know, because it’s not really about them telling me what they want. That’s just how you interact with people, right? They have their needs, you try to help them and then you render them with service and they pay you that’s kind of how we live our lives, right. But to not have them control my time was the biggest thing that I ever wanted. And I’m fortunately at this point that having this amazing conversation with you, that is the only thing where two people are involved. So I’m really, really happy about this. And I think your your mindset that I hear right now is a two things, it’s like nothing is so urgent and important that it needs to interrupt everything else. So you have this very clear focus on prioritizing things, in a very sane way. Because if everything is urgent, then nothing is urgent, right? If everything needs to happen, then there is no priority anymore. And I see you having a very, very active priority since there. And a delayed communication being as the central mode have a team is also wonderful. I think now that most people, even solopreneurs that are growing their teams, like the first employee or first contractor, we mostly do this remotely. We mostly do this on a global level, I have two people that helped me. One is in Denmark. The other person’s in the Philippines. Obviously, I won’t ever be able to talk with them at the same time because I’m in Canada. So no, we’re all over the world, right? So this needs to be an I’ve tried to establish myself, like a standard operating procedure, like a process based communication and very async, back and forth emails, nothing is ever so urgent that I need to call them. That was always the plan. And that’s how I set it up. I’m happy to hear you’re handling this the same way. Because in many ways you are somebody I look up to in terms of being a creator, because you handle it in a wonderful way. And you talk about the things that I care about in a very aligned way as well. And yeah, that’s that’s kind of what I really, really like about your approach here. And this stopping whatever you want on the thing that is bothering you, and going to somewhere else is also a great approach. I do wonder now that your businesses are growing, and you have more and more people, do you see this becoming harder, like to kind of stop doing the thing that bothers you? Because maybe there is a dependency with somebody else’s work? Have you found a way out of that?

Simon Høiberg 53:32
Yeah, sometimes it does become harder. And it’s like playing down, it isn’t always possible. Sometimes you do need to kind of fold and say like, there’s something that’s urgent or important enough, or there’s certain I’m not gonna I don’t want to put my team through stressful situations. So especially we have on feet hive, in particular, because it’s running. It’s a social media management tool. And we are dependent on these third party API’s. It’s our entire product, and they fail. Notoriously, it’s very annoying. And our users aren’t always aware that this is just the name of the game, it produces a lot of support tickets. So we have a support team on board and I don’t always want to sit to put them in a stressful situation handling some users that can be very, very frustrated, let’s just say it like that and downright like impolite and, and not very nice to talk to. So there’s some times where it’s not always possible. And that’s where I’m asked the business owner, jump in and make sure that their work is nice and pleasant and not because I think as as like it’s not their business. First of all, they’re also not entrepreneurs. They didn’t sign up for this. That’s that that kind of crisis management and uncommon discomfort is what I signed up for. So sometimes of course I put my calendar or whatever I’m doing at that time aside, and then I just kind of Do and solve whatever problem I need right there, even though it can, can be a little bit annoying sometimes I think the essence of it is that I think I think people don’t burn out from working a lot. I think people burning out from be feeling forced to work on something that is either either not clear to them, how this would benefit their lives, or they’re forced to do it either by their employer or by salary situations or or other. I think that’s what burning people out. And I have tried my very best to make sure that there are a minimum number of situations where I have to push myself to keep working on something that I really, really dislike. And every time these situations happen, I do sit down, I carefully reflect and I tried to come up with processes to prevent this from happening in the future, both for myself and and for my employees that’s working with me.

Arvid Kahl 55:52
That closes the loop. Here’s another process to make the the life of your business, your employees and yourself better, easier and more manageable. I love this. And I love the kindness that I hear in your voice right now. Because you’re talking about your employees and trying to protect them and making sure that they get what they sign up for you just an awesome guy. And I’m really, really glad that we had this conversation today. That was really nice. If people want to find out more about you and I bet they do want to find out more about you. Where do you want them to go? Ah,

Simon Høiberg 56:24
I think YouTube is probably the best place to get like a an in depth glimpse of what I’m doing otherwise, I’m very active on pretty much everywhere. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. You can find me around the internet on most social media platforms.

Arvid Kahl 56:39
Yeah, you are everywhere, which is good. Well, thanks so much, Simon for being on the show today. That was really, really kind of you to share everything that you share today. That was wonderful. Thank you.

Simon Høiberg 56:51
Absolutely. Thank you for being here. It was a pleasure.

Arvid Kahl 56:53
And that’s it for today. Thank you for listening to The Bootstrapped Founder. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl. You’ll find my books and my twitter course there as well. If you wanna support me and the show, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get the podcast in your podcast player of choice and leave a rating and a review by going to ( Any of this, will truly help the show. So thank you so much for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye bye

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